I wish people could splice in common sense... (and buy this DLC!)
If you liked the return to Rapture in BioShock 2, you owe it to yourself to play Minerva's Den. Simply put, this is easily one of the best pieces of downloadable content for Bioshock 2 and one of the best examples of story extension for any game so far.
[image1]I was in the minority of people that enjoyed BioShock 2 as much as the original. Sure, the story was on the weak side in comparison to the original game's Andrew Ryan saga, but its improved gameplay and incredible set pieces made up for those shortcomings. The downloadable content for the game up to this point has been rather lacking, as with the Rapture Metro Pack. But Minerva's Den, the last DLC for BioShock 2, delivers one of the best story arcs in the growing BioShock series and surpasses its bigger brother's plot with a deep tale of prejudice and coping with loss.
Minerva's Den begins painfully slow, similar to BioShock 2. Subject Sigma, another reprogrammed Alpha Series Big Daddy wakes up, with a voice in his head telling him what to do. It's the way both BioShock games have started and just like its predecessors, there's more than meets the eye in Minerva's Den. The story this time is set deep in the computerized core of Rapture's development sector, where a super computer that controls all automatons in Rapture is located.
Enemies are just as strong this time around. Splicers are tougher from the very beginning, coming in a variety of types that combine the Splicer type, like a Houdini one for instance, with an ice plasmid. Combos like this demand more outside-the-box tactics in combat and prove to be much more challenging that most of the original game's firefights.
[image2]But it's not like you face them with just your wits. Stronger weapons and plasmids can be found as you explore Minerva's Den, including a focused laser rifle that is the main armament for the Lancer Big Daddy, this DLC's newest threat. The laser gun is fun to use and is upgraded as you play through this DLC. It works on three kinds of ammo like the rest of your arsenal, one of which is an blinding flash that's useful when you need some breathing room.
Since Minerva's Den takes place in concurrence with BioShock 2's main story, you'll still run into Sisters, Big and Little, as well as their Daddies. You also still hold their destiny in your hands, as Little Sisters can be harvested or saved. There isn't much new in terms of plasmids you can buy with the ADAM the Sisters gather, but if you played through Protector Trials, some of the unlocks from that DLC will be purchasable.
In terms of the now much expected story build-up through recordings, there's plenty of new tapes scattered around the three main areas that act as chapters. Along with tapes, there are a few collectibles too and Rapture's own arcade game. Both are tied to Minerva's Den achievement list, but both are worth searching for on their own since they offer unique sets of rewards in the form of items and money. Unlike tapes, however, you won't miss a lot of the story if you skip them.
For 800 Microsoft points, you're getting one heck of a ride and an awesome side tale in the Rapture saga with Minerva's Den. It fits in extremely well in the continuum and helps fill some of the gaps in the story, developing some of the more obscure folks in BioShock 2's lore. It's one hell of a trip from beginning to end and, by the end of its four-hour journey, will only make it tougher for you to wait two years for BioShock Infinite.